“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’”
The Community United Effort (CUE) On the Road to Remember tour made a stop in Warren on Tuesday to bring some fresh attention to the Damien Sharp case.
Sharp has been missing since Memorial Day weekend 2002.
The case is considered a homicide/missing person by the City of Warren Police Department.
When Sharp’s mother, Janeane Shanahan, was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer and had to have a kidney removed, she despaired of ever experiencing the closure of knowing what happened to her son.
“Let me make it so I can put Damien to rest,” she said. “There’s not a day that goes by, usually not an hour, that I don’t think of him.”
Her hope is that someone who knows some detail will be prompted by repeated reminders in the news to contact police or Crime Stoppers and reveal information that will finally solve the case.
Keeping missing persons cases in the public eye is the purpose of the tour.
“After so many years, these cases fade from the public’s radar, but for the families and friends of a missing person, the nightmare continues every minute of every day their loved one is absent,” CUE Founder Monica Caison said. “These families live in agony every day.”
“The purpose of the tour is to get these faces back out,” Caison said. “You gotta keep the word out.”
The CUE Missing Persons Tour brought plenty of attention.
In addition to the Times Observer, Warren and Jamestown radio stations and an Erie television station sent reporters to cover the event.
Caison said the attention attracted by the tour helps. “Last year alone, our tour solved a 28-year-old case,” she said. “The year before it was an 11-year-old case” that was solved.
The additional attention also helps family members.
“It does bring a sense of renewed hope for the families and the case efforts,” she said.
The tour is not the group’s only effort.
“We have a network of about 10,000 professional searches nationwide,” said Caison, who is a K-9 handler.
The group also acts as liaison between families and law enforcement agencies.
There are many agencies involved.
Warren City Police Lead Investigator Anthony Chimenti expressed his thanks to those groups that have participated in the efforts to find Sharp, including the FBI, U.S. Forest Service, Pennsylvania State Police and its cold case unit, Warren County District Attorney’s office, Warren County Sheriff’s office, Warren County Jail, Warren Fire Department, Glade Township Volunteer Fire Department, Crime Stoppers, and Mercyhurst College Forensic Anthropology Professor Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat.
Shanahan encourages people to contact Crime Stoppers because the person giving the information will not be penalized. The contact can remain anonymous.
Caison said media attention sometimes makes people want to give information, whether they played some role in a person’s disappearance, are protecting someone, or simply don’t want to get involved.
“It’s one more time it’s wearing on somebody that knows something,” she said. “People grow up. They want to come clean. You can’t live with that over your head.”
About 30 people, mostly Sharp’s family and friends, attended the 11 a.m. event on the steps of the Warren Municipal Building.
“I want to thank everybody for this,” Shanahan said. “It’s greatly appreciated.”
Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Janeane Shanahan holds a picture of her son, Damien Sharp, during a press conference at the Warren Municipal Building on Tuesday. The Community United Effort (CUE) Missing Persons Tour stopped in Warren to bring some publicity to the case of Sharp, who has been missing since May 2002.